In late August news sources reported that commercial property consultants Bilfinger GVA have been instructed to advise on the sale of the Holloway prison land and up to 5,000 flats were to be built on the site with an end value in excess of £2 billion. Yesterday the Ministry of Justice confirmed the appointment of Bilfinger GVA, but there are good reasons to be wary about the reports of space for thousands of homes.
The Centre was sceptical about the accuracy of the 5,000 figure in the first place and Paul Wellman, of the trade magazine Estates Gazette, points out that the only way to get 5,000 homes on the Holloway site would be 'to build 30 to 40 towers across the entire site, with no low rise buildings. That would be a tall order.' Wellman suggests that a more likely figure is 500.
It is estimated that the average cost of a home will be around £500,000, so affordable to those with a household income of £150,000 a year, or fives times the median average wage in London.
The Centre's Deputy Director, Will McMahon, said
It is clear that a private development will force up house prices further in the Holloway area, force out those on low incomes and fail to meet the needs of the around 400 households who are currently registered as homeless by Islington Council.
Given that the homeless are more likely to be criminalised than most of the population, building good quality council houses for the homeless rather than bijou apartments for investment purposes would be a better approach to developing the Holloway site.
The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies is a supporter of the #ReclaimHolloway campaign in partnership with Women in Prison and the Reclaim Justice Network.